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Next VOR on IMOCAs?

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The Volvo 70 still going strong.

Seven boats will compete in the new two divisions for multi-hulls and superyachts, including the largest entry, Kawil, a 112-foot Sparkman & Stephens design. Another 20 yachts will race in the Gibbs Hill Division, which will feature high-performance boats that are steered and crewed professionally. That class will include George David’s Rambler 88, Todd Stuart’s White Rhino and Wizard, a Volvo Open 70 that won the 2011–12 Volvo Ocean Race as Groupana 4.

http://www.jamestownpress.com/news/2018-04-19/News/195_boats_register_for_race_to_Bermuda.html

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Vendée Globe IMOCA 60 designs could be adopted for the next Volvo Ocean Race

Negotiations are advanced into adopting the IMOCA 60 class rule used for solo and short-handed ocean races for the next fully crewed round the world race...amid rumours the Volvo Race may be for sale...

Final negotiations are underway between the IMOCA class and the Volvo Ocean Race (VOR) to adopt the IMOCA 60 as the design the next fully crewed round the world race.

An announcement is expected to be made before the end of the VOR race in June.

Proposals for the race to adopt the IMOCA 60 rule (formerly Open 60) used in the major solo and short-handed ocean races such as the Vendée Globe and Route du Rhum been discussed for several years. The IMOCA box rule, which has incorporated developments such as wingmasts, canting keels and now foils, is the most successful and enduring rule in ocean racing, and has led to a vigorous secondhand market for these one-off designs.

An agreement could make it possible for teams to do both races with comparatively minor modifications to an existing or new yacht. It would also reduce VOR team costs by whittling down crew numbers; an IMOCA 60 is considered fully crewed with four or five people.

VOR has declined to comment on the discussions at this stage.

An agreement would supersede the concept of a ‘Super 60’ one-design for the VOR announced by former CEO Mark Turner last year. It would have been adaptable for the Vendée and other IMOCA events, but at a high cost – the design had a bigger mast, longer keel and trim tabs. Turner quit the race last September among rumours that the Volvo board had baulked at the costs of creating the new one-design fleet.

The adoption of the IMOCA 60 would mark a big change for the Volvo Race, which moved to a one-design and operates strict rule management and centralised refit and maintenance. The IMOCA rule is democratically decided on by the class association, and anyone who owns a yacht in class automatically becomes a voting member – it cannot be controlled by commercial interests, past skippers or a race organiser. Many skippers own their yachts, and so have a vested interest in ensuring boats evolve (winners need a faster boat), but not so radically that the secondhand value is diminished.

Alex Thomson, who is on the IMOCA class board, says the vote to allow the VOR to adopt the rule was “nearly unanimous. Only three out of 80 were against it.

“We talked about it with VOR and we expect some announcement, but the ball is firmly in their court.

“The IMOCA rule has the only sustainable ocean racing fleet in the world – and it works.”

Safer and greener

Thomson says the next VOR would benefit from a greater number of entries; the race struggled to get seven this time, and a number are said to be non-commercial. “Loads of teams in IMOCA would have an ambition to do the VOR,” he says. “And I can tell you from our side that any IMOCA skipper that wants to do the VOR is already selling it, especially now Barcelona World Race is gone. It is another race in our calendar that has more history and is more valuable.”

Thomson, also president of the class’s technical committee, has encouraged other changes to the class, such as the use of new radar technology he believes will make racing safer. He has worked with Raymarine to extend the use of software that will turn a radar on and off at regular intervals to ‘keep watch’ if a skipper is asleep or on deck, and alert them to target via an external alarm.

The IMOCA rule is also being changed to incentivise skippers to use renewable energy. Until now, designs were measured excluding fuel weight, but including solar panels or hydro generators, effectively penalising renewable energy sources in performance terms. Now the rule has been changed so that devices providing energy from the sun, wind or water are removed from the measurement, but fuel is counted. “This should open up electric and hybrid engines,” says Thomson.

He agrees that managing a class that spans solo and fully crewed races, each following very different routes, could be a challenge and says: “We need to think if this design will be substantially different and how to cap costs. Until we know the route of next VOR, it is hard to think what boats will be like. If the next VOR route is very different then it’s very much a possibility we will see boats designed just for that, but this is something the class recognises and we want to keep boats close together.

“The best way this works is if one platform works for both with minor modifications and are not too far away from each other.”

Volvo Race for sale?

Meanwhile, the Volvo Ocean Race could be close to being sold, according to several sources close to the event. We understand that at least two companies are undertaking due diligence checks before making a potential bid.

The race is currently jointly owned by Volvo Cars and Volvo Group, and that joint ownership may be set to split. Volvo Cars is owned by Zhejiang Geely Holding, while Volvo Group, often referred to as AB Volvo, whose products include busses, construction vehicles and marine engines, remains a Swedish owned company based in Gothenburg.

The race is currently headed up by Richard Brisius, who is also CEO of the company running Sweden’s bid to host the Winter Olympics in 2026.


Read more at http://www.yachtingworld.com/news/vendee-globe-imoca-60-designs-adopted-next-volvo-ocean-race-114319#hPLWHEP3rPaff2Z7.99

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10 minutes ago, southerncross said:

Volvo Race for sale?

Meanwhile, the Volvo Ocean Race could be close to being sold, according to several sources close to the event. We understand that at least two companies are undertaking due diligence checks before making a potential bid.

Thanks SX. Wonder how much of this true or blowing smoke up everyone's arse.

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4 minutes ago, jack_sparrow said:

Thanks SX. Wonder how much of this true or blowing smoke up everyone's arse.

The rumors have been floating around since Turner jumped.  Maybe the Chinese.

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On 18/04/2018 at 5:33 AM, surfsailor said:

Not sure why so much hate against EV systems replacing diesel? This is an emerging technology that potentially will make high tech offshore sailing better - quieter, more reliable, and 100% self sufficient - and a mandate in a premier event like the Volvo will drive that process forward, just like every other mandate (think fuel economy standards) has in the past, the whinging of people/industries clinging to old tech notwithstanding. 

 

On 18/04/2018 at 10:36 AM, jack_sparrow said:

It is not hate, it is being able to compute or understand energy numbers and RTW race boats.

Interstingly those like you bellowing about mandates working and those clinging to old tech as being whingers, don't quote or come up with one number to support your viewpoint. 

Until you do that I suggest you lot are the ones doing all the whinging.

The first power stations starting nearly 150 years ago were hydro powered. It took an emerging technology called the combustion engine, not mandates to make its wider application a viable proposition.

When lithium battery systems were first introduced to the V70's, the SI's insisted on a minumum weight of Lead Acid batteries still to be carried on board. The life threatening environment of a RTW is not the place to be fucking around with either mandates or questionable technology.

Last time I looked no one had died from a motor vehicle maximum fuel consumption mandate.

Surf as I feel a bit guilty for giving you a belt for supporting "mandates," this extract courtesy of SX above shows the best outcome is via "encouragement" to offset some of the constraints of alternative energy production and loads that are not easily modified to be less.

Furthermore it should be the "users and financial underwriters," in this case the IMOCA Owners directing policy, as the ones best equiped to be making decisions, not faceless RO Committees.

Thomson, also president of the class’s technical committee, has encouraged other changes to the class, such as the use of new radar technology he believes will make racing safer. He has worked with Raymarine to extend the use of software that will turn a radar on and off at regular intervals to ‘keep watch’ if a skipper is asleep or on deck, and alert them to target via an external alarm.

The IMOCA rule is also being changed to incentivise skippers to use renewable energy. Until now, designs were measured excluding fuel weight, but including solar panels or hydro generators, effectively penalising renewable energy sources in performance terms. Now the rule has been changed so that devices providing energy from the sun, wind or water are removed from the measurement, but fuel is counted. “This should open up electric and hybrid engines,” says Thomson.

http://www.yachtingworld.com/news/vendee-globe-imoca-60-designs-adopted-next-volvo-ocean-race-114319#hPLWHEP3rPaff2Z7.99

 

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IMOCA class showing why it is important for owners to have the say instead of top down approach where marketing mushy brains with about as much practical concern for sailors and boat's well being will tell you to make everything hybrid. Look how it did Formula 1.

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6 hours ago, jack_sparrow said:

 

Surf as I feel a bit guilty for giving you a belt for supporting "mandates," this extract courtesy of SX above shows the best outcome is via "encouragement" to offset some of the constraints of alternative energy production and loads that are not easily modified to be less.

Furthermore it should be the "users and financial underwriters," in this case the IMOCA Owners directing policy, as the ones best equiped to be making decisions, not faceless RO Committees.

Thomson, also president of the class’s technical committee, has encouraged other changes to the class, such as the use of new radar technology he believes will make racing safer. He has worked with Raymarine to extend the use of software that will turn a radar on and off at regular intervals to ‘keep watch’ if a skipper is asleep or on deck, and alert them to target via an external alarm.

The IMOCA rule is also being changed to incentivise skippers to use renewable energy. Until now, designs were measured excluding fuel weight, but including solar panels or hydro generators, effectively penalising renewable energy sources in performance terms. Now the rule has been changed so that devices providing energy from the sun, wind or water are removed from the measurement, but fuel is counted. “This should open up electric and hybrid engines,” says Thomson.

http://www.yachtingworld.com/news/vendee-globe-imoca-60-designs-adopted-next-volvo-ocean-race-114319#hPLWHEP3rPaff2Z7.99

 

I saw that, was just going to umm 'let sleeping dogs lie', but what the fuck...One new take-away for me was that under the current rule (which I had not read in depth) renewable energy was actually disincentivized. So simply reversing that will already be a huge driver of innovation.

I still disagree with your (and Miffy's) basic thesis that the RO committee in this particular case/context would make a decision that would put the sailors at risk for some 'marketing' advantage - engine-related catastrophe in the southern ocean would not be in anyone's interest. Power production is one of Volvo's areas of expertise - moreso than the IMOCA tech committee with regards to delivery systems if not specific application - and they are leaders in emerging EV technology. For sure the challenges are daunting, but not insurmountable.

I'm not a cheer leader for mandates per se, but as a designer I'm all about progress. For me, it all comes back to the possibility of real self-sufficiency in boats that currently require diesel fuel to complete a sailing race, and the potential future trickle down to normal boats for such a technology. 

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9 hours ago, surfsailor said:

For me, it all comes back to the possibility of real self-sufficiency in boats that currently require diesel fuel to complete a sailing race, and the potential future trickle down to normal boats for such a technology

Yep, couldn't agree more. I have a SH expedition boat and if wasn't for the trickle down from RTW race boats over the last decade in particular, it would just be another slow moving diesel tanker.

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Hahahaha. I, on the other hand, am imagining a world where my octogenarian dad’s swan 43 need never visit another fuel dock. 

Seriously - reliable, self-contained renewable power technology with a decent range woud be a huge benefit to pretty much every sailboat with a motor, and that kind of innovation doesn’t happen in a vacuum.

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we should expect an announcement soon, most likely during the Newport stopover. The rumour mill is running crazy. 

Allowing IMOCAs to sail the VOR could/would get rid of the very small participation rates in the last editions, but this goes against the ultra-short stopovers created by Knut (to reduce costs, again), creating a logistical nightmare. For me, the biggest issue is the clash of objectives between a race round the world like the Vendee and a commercial platform to sell Volvo products like todays VOR. The moment the VOR went into Abu Dhabi, India and China, it sold its soul to the devil and sealed its fate. Sure, lot of people argue that at least we have a race and this is the price to pay (same argument as with the OD. Another erroneous decision that made the race survive two editions, but without even less soul...). The race is not sustainable as is, with just 3 paying teams (AZ, Brunel and Mapfre only taking part as it can use the special Spanish tax incentives) and the others financed by the owner (Volvo, Geely, Dongfeng).

Anyhow, exciting times ahead (hopefully). If it is true that  someone is looking to buy the property this could be a major shake down... the two parties mentioned doing due diligence can only be companies already involved like Dongfeng or HCL Technologies. 

 

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As Honda liked to say "Racing improves the breed."  This can happen from all sorts of viewpoints, and providing incentives that have a reasonable chance of actively encouraging real development is hard to gainsay. This does mean that there is a sensible technological pathway, and not just assuming some sort of scientific miracle. Short of a Mr Fusion or a seawater powered motor we are still some way to go to eliminate diesel.

The safety aspects of actively penalising diesel on board need to be considered. There needs to be a high energy density power storage system, and hydrocarbons are pretty difficult to beat here. Power density is important as well for emergency situations. The pull test for the IMCOA boats is pretty feeble. Cynically one notes that a MOB when sailing the Vendée does not entail any need for the boat to motor back. Once you are sailing the VOR, there is going to be an expectation that the boats can engage in successful rescues. Marrying the disparate expectations is not going to be trivial. A big difference between the cultures is that, right now, Volvo are going to push an expectation of high levels of safety, if only to avoid being publicly associated with a race that is fraught with accidents. Any new owner of the VOR is likely to have similar expectations. 

If the VOR is to change hands, my bet is that Vestas will be a major stakeholder in any new ownership. Or at least a key player in one of the bidders, if there are a number of suitors. I doubt Volvo will simply put the race on the market and walk away. They will want to have a very clear idea about where the race is going and what the future is. It just isn't part of their culture to drop it.

It is becoming apparent that the race is headed to some sort of revitalisation. I hope that they don't wipe away some of the real wins that the format changes have brought. The influx of young and female sailors has IMHO been a big part of the appeal of this race. It isn't just the same old faces on the usual grind. Somehow they need to keep that.

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9 hours ago, Francis Vaughan said:

If the VOR is to change hands, my bet is that Vestas will be a major stakeholder in any new ownership

Good post FV.  After all Vestas has been through, that would be remarkable.  Didn't someone mention the CEO was a sailor?  

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On 2018-04-24 at 11:51 PM, Francis Vaughan said:

The pull test for the IMCOA boats is pretty feeble. Cynically one notes that a MOB when sailing the Vendée does not entail any need for the boat to motor back. Once you are sailing the VOR, there is going to be an expectation that the boats can engage in successful rescues. Marrying the disparate expectations is not going to be trivial.

Yes, Conrad said he had to have a diesel generator to meet the pull test, just-in-case.

http://forums.sailinganarchy.com/index.php?/topic/154035-new-imoca-boats/&do=findComment&comment=5305906

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On 26/04/2018 at 1:39 AM, southerncross said:

Good post FV.  After all Vestas has been through, that would be remarkable.  Didn't someone mention the CEO was a sailor?  

On past history that would be one way to make sure not a single boat made it around the world.

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On 4/26/2018 at 1:06 AM, jack_sparrow said:

Still the same specs for current edition boats. Underneath those sexy looking sealed battery cases are plain ole Winston LFP cells made in China. 

Jack, this post of your got me looking at Winston's web site which is quite an eye opener. Presumably the Li S technology must be maturing if he is planning mass production and the energy density possibilities look really interesting. I lifted the attached from the site..

Developed by Mr Winston.pdf

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1 hour ago, staysail said:

Presumably the Li S technology must be maturing if he is planning mass production and the energy density possibilities look really interesting. I

That info is years old and Chung and affiliates have been in mass production for at least 8 years. Long story about partnership fallouts etc, tech copying etc There are many Chinese LFP manufacturers, some large some small. Main producer and best quality control is probably CALB. What the west gets from them is after the Chinese military have had first bite.

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Torqueedo is now selling   BMW  car  batteries for boats, and  from my knowledge these are Li-ion but not LFP (but also made of Chinese/Japanese cells for sure) :

https://www.torqeedo.com/en/products/batteries/bmw-i3-high-voltage-battery/4106-00.html

https://www.torqeedo.com/en/products/batteries/bmw-i8-high-voltage-battery/4107-00.html

also this one :

https://www.torqeedo.com/en/products/batteries/power-48-5000/2104-00.html

And they do have a higher energy density than Valence LFP ones for instance (but not by a huge amount)

I did put the numbers in a file and lost it ...

Wonder if they can be considered safe on a boat now.

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21 hours ago, jack_sparrow said:

That info is years old and Chung and affiliates have been in mass production for at least 8 years. Long story about partnership fallouts etc, tech copying etc There are many Chinese LFP manufacturers, some large some small. Main producer and best quality control is probably CALB. What the west gets from them is after the Chinese military have had first bite.

Capt. Jack...I'm impressed.  Very few even know that the Li cells available to the public are typically not the best ones.  

FWIW, Genasun bailed out of the Li battery biz a few years ago, when the consistency of even CALB cells went downhill.

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On 4/30/2018 at 11:53 PM, Haji said:

FWIW, Genasun bailed out of the Li battery biz a few years ago, when the consistency of even CALB cells went downhill.

A sad day.

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Surprised Volvo do not just simply jump ship and sponsor the IMOCAs or the Vendee Globê and drop VOR.

It is the world toughest sailing race apparently, like their cars and trucks. They do not need a boat yard or lease or design a fleet or box rule. 

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